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Five Hundred

Game Type
Trick Taking
Kids, Adults
2, 3, 4, 5, 6
In the early part of this century, Five Hundred was the favorite social game of the United States. It was finally eclipsed by Bridge but is still played worldwide by millions, particularly in Australia. It was devised and introduced in 1904 by the United States Playing Card Company, which held the copyright for 56 years but never charged anyone for its use. Five Hundred can be thought of as a combination of Euchre and Bridge.
Number of Players. Two to six people can play. The three-hand game is particularly interesting. Four people can play in two partnerships, or with three active players plus one player (the dealer) who sits out each game. Five people can play in two partnerships, three against two, or can cut to decide which three or four play the first game while the other sits out. Six people can play in two partnerships of three each.
The Pack. The size of the pack varies with the number of players. For two or three players, it is 33 cards - A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 in each suit, plus a joker. Four players use a 43-card pack: ace (high) to 5 (low) in each suit, plus the 4, 4 and the joker. Five players use 53 cards: the standard 52-card pack plus a joker. Six players use a special 62-card pack that includes spot cards numbered 11 and 12 in each suit, and 13 in each of two suits; 13 hearts and 13 diamonds. By agreement, the joker may or may not be included.
Rank of Cards. The joker is always the highest trump. Second best is the jack of trumps ("right bower"); third best is the jack of the other suit of the same color as the trump ("left bower"). The rank in trumps is: Joker (high), J (right bower), J (left bower), A, K, Q, 10, 9, down to the lowest card. In each plain suit, the rank is A (high), K, Q, J,10, 9, down to the lowest card.
The bidding denominations rank: No trump (high), hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades.
Drawing. Each player draws a card from a pack spread face down. The player with the lowest card deals first. In drawing for deal only, ace ranks low, below the deuce, and the joker is the lowest card of the pack.